By Michael Pearson. Holly Yan and Mariano Castillo
The United States has "deep concerns" over China's newly declared East China Sea air defense zone, Vice President Joe Biden privately told Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Beijing on Wednesday, according to a pool report citing senior administration officials traveling with the delegation.
According to the pool account of a background briefing by the officials, Biden also told Xi that the United States doesn't recognize the zone - which includes uninhabited islands that have been the site of tense disputes between China and Japan, both of which claim the lands for their own.
"President Xi was equally clear in laying out their view of the zone and of territorials disputes in the region," one of the officials said, according to the pool report. "Ultimately, President Xi took on board what the vice president said. It's up to China, and we'll see how things will unfold in the coming days and weeks."
Biden had assured Japanese leaders on Tuesday that he would raise the issue with Xi, but it was not mentioned publicly by either leader.
By Jamie Crawford
The U.S. Navy has deployed two of its next-generation reconnaissance aircraft to Japan, a long-planned move that comes amid controversy over Chinese air defenses.
Designed to enhance the Navy's long-range maritime patrol capability, the P-8A Poseidon's specialty is submarine detection, the Navy said. The planes flew from Norfolk, Virginia, to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, in recent days.
The P-8A Poseidon also is part of the Navy's effort to phase out the P-3C Orion. It is more technologically advanced than its predecessor and can fly higher with a crew of up to nine. It also can carry torpedoes, cruise missiles, bombs and mines.
While the Navy rebalances resources in the Pacific, the arrival of the aircraft comes at a time of heightened tension in the region with China's imposition of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.
By Paul Armstrong
By his own admission, one of the U.S Navy's top commanders says his Pacific fleet "gets all the best stuff" when it comes to state-of-the-art weaponry - an undeniable reflection of President Barack Obama's so-called pivot towards Asia.
The flagship of its 7th fleet, the Nimitz-class USS George Washington aircraft carrier boasts a formidable arsenal; from the latest FA-18 fighter jets, to anti-submarine helicopters and early-warning surveillance aircraft. Add to this the fleet's numerous missile destroyers, cruisers and submarines and the statement of intent is clear to see - Washington is serious about its role in the region.
"It's a long-term effort for us here," Fleet commander Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, told CNN aboard the giant vessel amid the muffled roar of jet engines from the flight deck directly above. "From a policy perspective it's a shift in balance of not only our resources but our thinking across diplomatic, information, economic and military lines to the Pacific.
"But I would offer that the 7th Fleet never left - we've been a strong presence here for the past 70 years. We're slowly shifting from a 50/50 mix in the United States Navy to a 40% Atlantic, 60% Pacific mix," he added, referring to the gradual swing away from traditional areas of operation in the West.FULL STORY
By Tim Hume, Jethro Mullen and Yoko Wakatsuki
China sent fighter jets into its newly claimed air defense zone Thursday, as Japan and South Korea sounded notes of defiance by declaring they would continue to fly through disputed airspace without notifying Beijing.
South Korea announced yesterday it had already sent a military flight into China's newly claimed "air defense identification zone" (ADIZ) on Tuesday without alerting China, while Japan appeared to claim it had also flown into the territory since China's announcement Saturday that it was unilaterally establishing the zone.
The flights have raised the stakes in a rapidly escalating dispute over contested territory in and above the East China Sea. They follow U.S. flights into the territory earlier in the week, when two unarmed B-52 bombers passed uncontested through the zone, in what the Pentagon described as a pre-planned military exercise.
Col. Shen Jinke, spokesman for the People's Liberation Army Air Force, said the Chinese warplanes, including Su-30 and J-11 fighters and an airborne radar early warning system, were flown Thursday into the ADIZ in what he described as a "defensive measure ... in line with international practices."FULL STORY
By Paul Armstrong
The deafening roar of state-of-the-art warplanes being catapulted into the air from its huge flight deck signaled that the USS George Washington was back in combat mode after its recent detour to the Philippines to take part in the aid effort in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
Barely a week on and the 90,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is now patrolling waters off the island of Okinawa as part a huge naval exercise - AnnualEx 2013 - involving dozens of warships, submarines and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's 7th fleet and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The aim? To provide a stern test of their ability to effectively and mutually respond to the defense of Japan or to a regional crisis or contingency situation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to the U.S. Navy.
But this year's war games have taken on an added dimension given the high-pressure atmosphere in the region at present - they take place in the shadow of a controversial new Air Defense Identification Zone announced by the Chinese last weekend.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
Two U.S. Air Force B-52 aircraft on Monday flew into China's newly claimed air defense zone over the East China Sea without identifying themselves as China would have wanted, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.
This follows China's move last week to announce a new air zone over islands that both China and Japan claim.
The flights of the B-52s would not be a departure from the United States' previously stated intentions. Since China declared the new air zone last week, the United States said it would continue with its own air operations in the region and not recognize China's new restrictions, which require aircraft entering the zone to identify themselves and file flight plans.
The B-52s, which flew from Guam and returned there without incident, were not armed because it was a training mission. The mission lasted for several hours, but the aircraft were in the newly declared Chinese air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.FULL STORY
By Jill Dougherty
In a private ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the State Department, Caroline Kennedy was sworn in by Secretary of State John Kerry as U.S. ambassador to Japan.
The event was closed to media, but the State Department released a photo showing a smiling Kennedy dressed in a simple black dress, her right hand raised, her left resting on what looked like a Bible held by her husband, Edwin Schlossberg. Nearby, their son John "Jack" Schlossberg looked on, wearing a dark suit, hands in pockets, his shock of dark hair an uncanny reminder of his deceased uncle, John Kennedy Jr., Caroline's brother.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
The Marine Corps general in charge of U.S. military aid efforts for victims of Typhoon Haiyan is asking the Pentagon to urgently send a number of amphibious warships to the Philippines.
Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy tells CNN he needs the Marine Corps amphibious ships specifically because they can carry a variety of small boats, trucks, equipment and supplies needed, as well as making potable water. "They are the Swiss army knife of the U.S. military," Kennedy told CNN in a telephone interview from the Philippines. Kennedy says he believes his request will be approved by the Pentagon in the coming hours. As many as four of the warships could be headed to the Philippines.
The amphibious ships can also carry helicopters and tracked vehicles known as "assault amphibious vehicles." These vehicles can carry supplies and move over and through piles of debris to distribution points where aid is needed most.
The U.S. military will take supplies to distribution points, but it will be then handed out by Philippines forces, Kennedy said. Local forces are in the best position to know community leaders and make sure those in the most need are getting the help, he added.FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea more than likely tested a long-range rocket engine late last month, according to analysis of new satellite imagery over the site.
In the photos released by 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, indicators of a probable test are seen through the presence of a probable rocket stage, propellant tanks, as well as the appearance of burned vegetation around the launch stand.
The photos were taken between August 25 and 30.
"These are not in and of themselves indicators that there is going to be a rocket test six months from now," Joel Wit, a former North Korea specialist at the State Department who is now with 38 North, told CNN about the photos.
By Jill Dougherty
The United States is hopeful that a visit to Pyongyang aimed at securing the release of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae will be "straightforward," but a U.S. official speaking on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue tells CNN there are "no guarantees."
Ambassador Robert King, who's President Obama's special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will join a small delegation flying to Pyongyang on a U.S. military jet Friday. They are expected to spend 24 hours on the ground, meeting with North Korean officials.
"The sole purpose of the trip is to secure Bae's release," the official says. "Our expectation is that now is the time to move forward and resolve this, to release this American."